July 25, 2014

This 30-Minute Video Is the Most Fun You'll Ever Have Learning About Composition

There are many aspects to the art and craft of cinematography. There is a technological component to it, of course, and that's something that we talk about frequently. However, most people agree that it's not the equipment that is used, but instead, how it is used that determines the efficacy of a given cinematographic piece. Of the many artistic facets of the craft, perhaps the least understood is composition. Many of our most coveted compositional techniques and theories come from history's greatest visual artists, and they are entirely fascinating and useful once understood. Unfortunately, learning about them can be about as interesting as watching paint dry. Luckily, the following video on composition is not only informative, but it's also, dare I say, entertaining.

First and foremost, it should be noted that this video focuses on the theories and techniques of creating contrast and using contrasting visual elements within the frame to draw the viewer's focus to the correct place. It focuses very little on some of the compositional techniques that we're taught in film school, like the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. More than anything, it's a tutorial that's largely geared towards graphic designers and motion graphics artists, but the information here can be directly applied to photography and cinematography composition.

So without any further ado, here's a 30 minute Division 05 masterclass in using contrasting visual elements to create compelling compositions:

Ultimately, there's a whole lot to learn about cinematography from this quirky tutorial, even if the tutorial itself isn't cinematography-specific. Like any type of visual artist, it is the cinematographer's job to control what the viewer sees in the frame and when they see it. Using contrasting visual elements to draw attention to various parts of the frame -- which is best done with lighting and by using compositional techniques such as leading lines -- is one of the most powerful tools at a cinematographer's disposal.

Additionally, it's important to note that film, like many of the other visual arts, is a two-dimensional medium that tricks the human eye into seeing three-dimensional space. Cinematographers can use the tools at their disposal (cameras and lighting) in order to further emphasize that concept and to create compositions with a tremendous amount of depth. Again, lighting is incredibly important when creating depth within a composition, and sculpting characters and objects with light is the name of the game when it comes to manufacturing cinematographic depth.

What are some of your tips and tricks for creating contrast and depth of composition? Let us know down in the comments!

[via PremiumBeat]

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32 Comments

also a good read about composition in general:
http://www.amazon.com/Design-Form-Basic-Course-Bauhaus/dp/0442240392
Design and Form by Johannes Itten (a former teacher at the Bauhaus School of Design)

July 25, 2014 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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A good reminder that there are so many more ways to draw attention to your subject than just using extremely shallow DOF. I'll admit, large sensor cameras have made me lazy in that aspect.

July 25, 2014 at 4:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jonathan

Robert, when will you get over using the same old title format... "Best.... Youll ever see".
You remind me of the recent article/debate about the transformers director who relies on the same visual style regardless of content, etc.. Only he is in a different league and has some talent.. No offense, but you sell yourself short, and surely the readers of nfs deserve more, no?

July 25, 2014 at 5:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joko

This Totally Pointless Rant Against the Author's Title Left Me Shocked. But What Happened Next Will Make You Weep Tears of Joy...

July 25, 2014 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Andy

hahahah, so good Andy! I Think I agree, NFS titles should be careful with titles... its not a blog about best vines or cat videos, we dont need that crap where everything is the absolute best of something of will give you the craziest emotions. Just be humble and clear with the content and Im sure the readers will appreciate it.

July 27, 2014 at 8:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Full of hormones

Did I just get compared to Michael Bay because of my headline...?

July 25, 2014 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4472

Joko's right. This headline is totally derivative of Bay.

July 25, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joko, I hear valium is good. Why don't you try it? It might help.

July 25, 2014 at 8:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Shaun Wilson

Why so upset about this? This website has more amazing content than most of us can keep up with and you guys are picking on the titles... give me a break...

July 30, 2014 at 8:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Guto

Why does everything have to be fun and entertaining? What's wrong with just learning composition through practice or by looking at photography books? I understand that this blog is made to appeal to young people but this kind of post makes me think that the vast majority of people here must suffer from ADD.

July 25, 2014 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Buzz

I don't think that anything necessarily needs to be entertaining. If it's educational and people can learn from it, then we post it. In fact, most of the stuff we post is pretty dry and to-the-point. This piece just has the added benefit of being entertaining alongside the fantastic educational content, and that's 100% worth pointing out in my opinion.

July 25, 2014 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4472

+1

July 26, 2014 at 1:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pravin

I myself "suffer" from ADD and yes I need my learning to be entertaining or I find it difficult to engage with it and learn from it. So are you suggesting that I shouldn't benefit from this because you don't like the style? Oh and I'm 32 and it still appealed to me.

July 25, 2014 at 6:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Idk. Why do people have to be such cynical jack@$$es in the comments?

July 28, 2014 at 12:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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J

i enjoyed the video and article robert. if you dont like the site go somewhere else. and buzz your an idiot. just because people don't adopt to your learning methods you are gonna call them people with ADD. sounds like you belong in world war 2 germany with that type of inside the box thinking.

July 25, 2014 at 6:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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alex thomas

A lot of technical information yet simple enough to enjoy. I know more about composition now than I was before cheking NFS today, so, highly appreciated.

July 25, 2014 at 6:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ebrahim Saadawi

It's incredible how so many people are only here to complain and spread negativity

July 25, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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heylo

Jerk

July 26, 2014 at 2:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Steve

Oh my god...you people have to complain about EVERYTHING...don't you. Seriously, if I was Koo, I would shut this website down just to not have to listen to you boring people drone on and on about how everything that everyone posts on this website sucks. You are the people no one likes to be around at parties. But go ahead and continue to pretend like anyone gives a flying crap about your opinion. Nerds.

July 25, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brd

I have to agree with Joko.

July 25, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Phil

Of course you do Phil....I'd expect nothing less.

July 25, 2014 at 7:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brd

July 25, 2014 at 7:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom Barnold

absolutely brilliant. i can't even imagine the work that went into this video.

you start with lots of technical stuff, then break it all down for us in an actual piece. this is an excellently made teaching video and has given me a lot to think about. Thank you for putting this together!

July 26, 2014 at 1:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jered

I took an art class (many years ago) while in college. The composition of a painting shows not only the geometric shapes and their arrangements but the influence of light.
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Just looking at Rembradt's work, you can see the visual composition according to the theories espoused above.
[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7IPPA5tfOw ]

July 27, 2014 at 2:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

A +

Very good, educative stuff ! and fun

The full composition at the end it's a little long.
The voice over it's a very good job.
How made the voice over ? the filmmaker ?
It's very verbal !

I like this we have a variety of stuff and you take what you need, or like.
A film to study will be THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL the filmmaker using different film ratio here.

July 31, 2014 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pierre Samuel Rioux

excellent post Robert. Please keep up the fantastic work

to those who are complaining, here's a simple fix for the problem....go watch something else!

OR...maybe get off your high horse and start putting together you valuable knowledge, spend countless hours putting together posts and videos and share with the rest of us, so we too can strive to be as awesome as you.

July 31, 2014 at 6:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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JB

very boring

August 1, 2014 at 6:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ck

Good reminder of the compositional elements.

August 1, 2014 at 4:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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wonder works

Highly Valuable, great refresher course, and wonderful use of example...... Now for those who see the value, .... try and translate into a visual language on film, such as using the "Set" or "Scouting Site" as the dimensional direction and use the light as value, and the camera as the focal points exposed. Learn and create with your experience freely given from Robert, be thankful and move forward.

August 2, 2014 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cal

I enjoyed this post very much. was very practical and informative. never thought of all these dimensions that i could create contrast in. thank you!

August 3, 2014 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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gili

Great video

August 3, 2014 at 5:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tai Vo

I'm thankful for this site, and the insight it provides...shameful someone provides folks with free content, and the only thing they latch on to is the title. Couldn't folks at least say thank you first, before they rant...SHEESH!

August 8, 2014 at 10:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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cdubb